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As Harrison pulled a mangled bit of gristle from his mouth, it occurred to him he'd never really seen Lottie's teeth.
"I don't think I've ever seen your teeth," he said.
"Don't spit out your food."
Harrison raised his napkin to his mouth.
"I'm not spitting."
"What would you call that?"
"It looks like spitting."
"I mean, I am spitting, but I'm not– It's gristle."
It was indeed gristle.
"Well, then you shouldn't be eating gristle."
Harrison took another bite. This time, there was no gristle. Thank goodness for that, he thought. The meat was very well-prepared, he thought.
"I was saying I don't think I've ever seen your teeth."
"Sure you've seen my teeth."
"You've seen my teeth."
"I don't think you smile with your teeth. Your lips stay together when you smile."
She smiled to herself. She did not show her teeth.
"Ah! Just now!"
"Well, of course I'm not going to show my teeth now. I'm thinking about it."
"Well, that's evidence, is it not?"
"No. You made me self-conscious about it."
"I made you self-conscious about it?"
"Well, no. But you made me think about it."
She smiled again. She could smile and she could laugh, but never both at once, he thought.
"Who are we eating tonight, anyway?"
"Pass the potatoes."
Harrison passed the potatoes.
"Could you hand me some salt as well?"
"I think we left the salt in the kitchen."
"I don't see it here, at least."
"It's not on my side."
"I'll go get you some salt."
"You don't need to thank me."
"I am thanking you."
"Well, you're welcome."
Harrison headed out to find the salt. Lottie chewed thoughtfully. She looked down at the roast on the table. The roast looked right back.
Hm, she thought to herself. A little underdone. Preparation could have been better.
"Here's the salt," said Harrison.
"I hate to put on so much salt. I should appreciate the flavor for what it is."
"You should eat it the way you enjoy it."
"Well, but I don't want to eat it with so much salt."
"You don't want it all to taste the same."
"Then put on less salt."
"Well. I suppose I should."
"To appreciate the flavor."
"You should eat it the way you enjoy it."
Lottie grinded salt on her potatoes. The potatoes were yellow. Harrison cut himself a toe.
"The preparation is fantastic."
"Well, I don't know about that."
Lottie chewed. Harrison chewed, and smiled.
"I can hear your chewing."
"I can hear your chewing. Don't chew like that."
"I don't want to call it disgusting."
"But I will say it. It is disgusting."
"Lottie. I do love you. I don't think I tell you that enough."
"You don't have to worry. You tell me often enough."
"How often is often enough?"
"You tell me often enough that I know."
"What if I want to say it more than just enough?"
"What if I want to say it in excess?"
"Excess is the right word."
"You and your excesses. And you let me go overboard with the salt."
The meal groaned. The eyelids winced, and Lottie grimaced.
"Underdone. I knew it."
Harrison grabbed the axe from its trusty corner in the room, bringing it down on the offending meal until it was still. Lottie stared, almost in awe.
Harrison breathed heavily, returning the dripping axe back to its home. He stood tall and said:
"Not underdone. Perfectly delicious."
Lottie rolled her eyes and smiled. Her teeth were sparkling white.